Career Builders: Continuing Education, Volunteerism, And Linear Career Development
There's no doubt about it; today, education is more important in building your career than ever before in history. In order to stay competitive in today's world, anyone who works with their minds should be ready to participate in continuing education. In addition, almost every job description posted these days requires previous experience - but how do you get that entry-level position if you have to have previous experience? Both of these issues can be addressed if you look at linear career development as a career builder. Linear career development is a method for starting with a relatively low-level position requiring only a little education and training, and then moving forward from there into incrementally more responsible positions, each requiring a little more education and a little more experience in each. For example, if your ultimate goal is to be a nurse practitioner, you can go through the clearly-defined fields of certified nursing assistant (90 days training); licensed practical nurse (1 year); registered nurse (2 years and an associates degree); BSN nurse (four years and a bachelor's degree). At this point, you can get postgraduate education and become a nurse-practitioner, a nurse-midwife, a forensics nurse, or any of several other subspecialties. And you've built your career in incremental steps, working at the same time you're learning. There are a few other fields in which you can do this, like civil engineering, where you'd start out as a drafter; but for the most part, your career builder path is going to have to be defined by you. Volunteerism as a Career Builder There are certain tight fields in which it's almost impossible to break in without some prior experience, no matter how much education you've accumulated. For instance, marketing and advertising are highly competitive, with most new positions coming from people who've started their own agencies; and journalism, for anything besides starvation wages, is tough. So if your jobs all require experience and you don't have any, what do you do? Volunteer. If you can build a web page for a social group or a church, you've just created a portfolio for yourself with which you can prove you do know the web design skills you claim. If you can write a newsletter for your local church, or if you can help them arrange advertising for special programs, you've just accumulated experience. There are those who may say this is a bad idea, that it sets the precedent that you shouldn't be paid for your work; but if you're out of school for ten years or more, the kids coming in behind you have probably done co-ops and volunteer work in school in exactly the same fields you're trying to get into. Continuing Education as a Career Builder In this age, information is vital to succeed in your career. If you ensure that you continue your education, you will at least stay in one place. By not just maintaining your education but by also seeking out new skills you can add to your repertoire, or by acquiring advanced degrees that will make you more efficient and more valuable in your current and desired future positions, your education will prove to be an effective career builder. So: plan your career path, do whatever it takes to acquire new experience, and continue educating yourself. These are the essential tools in your career builder tool chest.
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